By: Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
One year and 150 blogs after I started writing for Moneyville in addition to the work I do for other clients, I’ve learned that in order to avoid working longer, I need to work smarter.
Since anything I can do to work more efficiently or any amount I save on expenses goes directly to my bottom line, that’s the primary focus of the following ten New Years’ resolutions I am making for 2012.
1. Pay less for telephone and cell services
Between my business land line and cell phone I’m paying up to $150/month. I’ve read articles like Roseman:How to get rid of monthly phone bills but I’ve been nervous about sound quality and potential internet outage if I move to VOIP. However, the technology has improved and it’s time to seriously reconsider ways to reduce my telecommunication costs.
2. Outsource to experts
I recently started paying to have some audio interviews transcribed, and I plan to outsource more transcribing in 2012. A 30-minute recording can take me up to two hours to transcribe, so I can write more articles for my clients and get paid more with the additional time I now have available. Also, after struggling with the tax implications of moving from being a sole proprietor to a corporation, my anxiety level has gone way down since I’ve hired a crackerjack accountant to help me properly set up my books.
3. Use my technology to the max
I have a BlackBerry Torch, a Playbook, a laptop, a printer/scanner, a digital recorder and an iPod. My files are backed up in the cloud using a program called SugarSynch. I tweet, I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn. I know I am not using even a fraction of the organizing, computing and social media capabilities available to me. I am determined to learn more about the technology I interact with every day to improve my efficiency and get better value for my investment.
4. Turn off the lights
Our energy bills are too high. Part of the reason for this is that I work from home so reducing the temperature in the house in winter or using the air conditioner less in the summer are not necessarily viable options. However, I plan to try some of the energy conservation ideas in the following articles from fellow blogger Peggy Mackenzie: 8 lessons from leaving the heat off, 8 ways to stay warm with the furnace off, and10 ways to stay cool and cut your hydro bill. This also may be the year I finally put a blind on the skylight in my office.
5. Print fewer documents
I am always looking for blog ideas, so I typically print off reams of reports and articles for my “to do” pile. Very often I don’t ever get back to these materials because more current issues grab my attention. By filing more material electronically, I hope to kill fewer trees and spend less on paper and ink cartridges for my printer.
6. Post my expenses daily
All month I throw receipts for business expenses into an envelope and every month or two I go through and post the amounts on a spreadsheet. As the envelope gets fatter, the looming task seems more onerous and I keep further putting it off, which of course compounds the volume of stuff I eventually have to deal with. I am determined to start posting expenses as they are incurred to both reduce the self-induced stress and minimize the number of receipts I frequently lose.
7. Keep my office organized
When my office is cluttered, I am easily distracted. I waste too much time looking for everything from my hole punch to my staples to the roll of labels I know I had five minutes ago. Also, as I wrote earlier this year in How I saved hundreds by cleaning my office, I often buy unnecessary additional office supplies because I forget about the stash behind files in my cabinet. This year I’m determined to keep the bedlam under control.
8. Go out for lunch once a week
Working at home means lunch is usually whatever I can forage for in the fridge by one o’clock or later when I can no longer ignore the growling in my stomach. This is not good for my productivity or my waistline. I live two blocks from Yonge Street where there are many cheap and cheerful restaurants. I plan to clear my head by taking a real break at least once a week and getting to know the neighbourhood better.
9. Make every workout count
My husband and I belong to a gym around the corner from our house and we generally work out Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday morning. It’s easy to get into a rut and do the same routine over and over. There is no better time for me to try a few classes and kick it up a notch to get a better return on my fitness investment.
10. Keep learning
After retiring from my job as a pension and benefits lawyer at a consulting firm, I became editor of an industry trade magazine. I learned about layout, production and the business side of what it takes to run a magazine. Since I started my own business I have been involved in the development of social media strategy, blogging, writing and I am now doing video interviews for the first time. In 2012, I plan to take on other new projects that will take me out of my comfort zone, and force me to continue to learn and grow.